Ben Hoogendoorn, President & CEO, reflecting on a recent Vision Trip to South East Asia.
Ringku was born to a low-caste family in a remote part of Bangladesh. That in itself is enough to deny her a place in society that would give her any significant value as a person. But Ringku had more challenges than most children.
She was born with a double cleft lip and a severely deformed palette. It was a miracle she survived as an infant because her deformities made it impossible for her to breastfeed. It was almost impossible for her to eat because the food would come out of her nose rather than going down her throat.
To be born into that culture with this type of birth defect was devastating as she had little or no value to anyone. Anyone, that is, but her mother.
Her mother worked tirelessly hour after hour to ensure Ringku had sufficient nourishment. She would try to cheer her up by singing to her as she was being teased for the way she looked. Her mother told her not to be ashamed but to make the most of life. One thing that Rinku did from an early age was smile. Even though she had such traumatic birth defects, she would smile because her mother affirmed her value. Ringku was one of the sponsored children in the FH Community Development Program. Through that, she received her first surgeries to repair her lip. Because her case was so severe, more surgery was needed.
This need was presented to my Rotary Club in Abbotsford, where members raised the funds required for these surgeries. The Abbotsford Rotary Club decided to sponsor Ringku, 16, when the opportunity became available.
I was able to meet Ringku last week in Bangladesh. As a member of the Rotary Club, I was honoured to present her with greetings and some small gifts. I was impressed by her family’s unending support. All were thankful for Ringku’s progress.
This young lady has a sincerely sweet spirit and was a pleasant person to be around. She rarely stopped smiling and was so appreciative for her surgery and for the Rotary Club’s sponsorship her until she completed high school.
I’m so thankful I was able to meet this young lady who has developed such a sweet spirit and wonderful smile while overcoming significant obstacles, especially for a lower-caste girl with a severe facial deformity. Her mother said, “God created Ringku in His image, He loves her, and has a purpose for her life.”